Lately, our country has been fixated on the debate on health care legislation in Congress. The country is almost equally divided in the general beliefs that health care is either a right or health care is what you can purchase if you want it and can afford it… sort of like that washer and dryer, flat screen TV, or new or second car.

This blog will deal with teachings from Scripture that refer to social justice..  My next blog (Part II) will deal with Catholic Church teaching on Social Justice from Encyclicals and Catechism of the Catholic Church which will address the COMMON GOOD!

“By common good is to be understood “the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily… The common good concerns the life of all.,,,, In the name of the common good, public authorities are bound to respect the fundamental and inalienable rights of the human person…‘ (CCC 1905-1997)

Recently the Senate was asked to vote on a health care bill (skinny repeal) that Senators argued never should become law but if passed may get to the House so more tinkering could be done and try again to pass something that the majority of the people have clearly rejected.


The President’s proposed Budget for the next fiscal year would slash drastically Medicaid, cut food programs for children, $193 billion, cuts to children health care, cuts to disability insurance SSDI, but offer 1.6 billion for construction of a border wall COMMON GOOD??

To those that say charity is well and good but should be handled by charitable organization and insist that the Government should stay out of “social welfare” programs,  I say, they may have a point but are there charitable organizations now that address the needs of the most vulnerable?

Without the authority of government who is going to protect most vulnerable?  For example, I do not know any non-governmental charitable organization that pays for doctor bills, prescriptions, or operations, necessary to the life of a vulnerable individual, and meeting their constitutional rights as declared in the Declaration of Independence.

Declaration of Independence begins: We hold these truths to be self–evident, That all men are created equal,That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, That among these are LIFE, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.– That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, Deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…(July 4, 1776)


Catholic Social Justice teaching calls on us the “people of God” to minister to our neighbor’s needs, to speak out against injustice, and to work for peace. In the first Epistle of John, chapter 4, verse 20, it reads, “Anyone who says I love God and hates his neighbor is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen.”

The Epistle of James, chapter 2, verse 14 says, “Faith without works is dead.” And earlier James writes, “If a brother or sister is in need of food or shelter and you say to them I wish you well, good luck, keep yourself warm and eat plenty without giving them the necessities of life, how is your faith going to save you or your hungry neighbor.”

In John’s Gospel, 13:34-35, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” — Probable source of Christian hymn, “You will know we are Christians by our love.”

St. Paul compares the human body to the body of Christ, the Church.  I Corinthians 12:4-26 “There are different kinds of spiritual gifts but the same Spirit; there are different forms of service but the same Lord; there are different workings but the same God who produces all of them in everyone….  

Now the body is not a single part, but many.  Even if a foot should say, “Because I am not a hand I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body. 

Or if an ear should say, “Because I am not an eye I do not belong to the body,” it does not for this reason belong any less to the body.  If the whole body were an eye, where would the hearing be? If the whole body were hearing, where would the sense of smell be? But as it is, God placed the parts, each one of them, in the body as he intended…”

St. Paul goes on to say, “Indeed, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are all the more necessary, and those parts of the body that we consider less honorable we surround with greater honor, and our less presentable parts are treated with greater propriety, whereas our more presentable parts do not need this.

God has so constructed the body that there may be no divisions in the body so that the parts of the body may have concern for every other part. If (one) part suffers, all the parts suffer with it; if one part is honored, all the parts share its joy.” Just as it is in the human body so it is in the body of Christ, the Church.


In summary then, we take a look at Jesus’ Last Judgment discourse from the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 25 v. 31 – 45. “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit upon his glorious throne, and all the nations will be assembled before him.

And he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. He will place the sheep on his right and the goats on his left. Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.   For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.

Then the righteous will answer him and say, Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you? And the king will say to them in reply, Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.

Then he will say to those on his left, Depart from me, you accursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink,  A stranger and you gave me no welcome, naked and you gave me no clothing, ill and in prison, and you did not care for me.

Then they will answer and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or ill or in prison, and not minister to your needs?’  He will answer them, ‘Amen, I say to you, what you did not do for one of these least ones, you did not do for me.  And these will go off to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”

How do I show compassion to my neighbor?  Will I hear Jesus say to me, “‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world….

Pray it may be so!





Do I forgive injuries, real or perceived???  Have I forgiven those who have hurt or offended me or one of my loved ones?  Or do I hold on to old hatreds and grudges?

Our Lord Jesus taught us to pray “forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.”  So what we are saying, in effect, is “if I don’t forgive others, Lord, then don’t forgive me.”  That seems like a risk better not taken! 

Forgiveness is not the same as “forgetting that it ever happened”!  In reality, there are some things that we cannot forget,  just because the experience has embedded itself in our memory — but we can choose to forgive… to surrender that hurt, that painful memory over to Our Lord Jesus, to ask Him to help us to let go of that hurt and not to let it have power over us anymore.

Forgiveness is a gift from God not our own will power but a gift we should seek and embrace. When we forgive, we put the past behind us so that we can be truly present in the here and now instead of controlled by hurts of the past. But what if we continue to have negative feelings toward the person who hurt us?  It doesn’t matter!  Feelings are just that!,… feelings and nothing more…

Negative feelings are not sinful, unless we deliberately foster them and choose to feed them.  When our negative feelings emerge, and we pray for the person who hurt us, then our feelings will eventually begin to change and to heal. Forgiveness is an act of the will!

Forgiveness is often misunderstood.   Some may believe it diminishes the offense against them.  It does not!  Others may think it requires that you stay or resume a poisonous dysfunctional relationship.  It does not!  Still others may think it is a work they have to do all on their own.  IT IS NOT! Forgiveness is a work of God within us, whereby He acts to free us from the poisonous effects of bitterness and grief that often accompany the harm that was inflicted upon us.  Clinging to our hurt and anger, understandable though it may be, only harms us.  In calling us to forgive, God is offering us the gift to be free of a costly emotional state that robs us of our joy and strength.

Sometimes relationships are poisonous for both parties involved. Sometimes, because the other person has not or cannot repent (perhaps because of addictions or deep-seated drives), it is too dangerous to be close to him or her. Thus Scripture says, If possible, as far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. “Never take your own revenge, beloved, for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord” (Rom 12:18).

How is the forgiving of injuries a spiritual work of mercy? First of all, forgiving ourselves and others is a gift of mercy to us. Anger, hurt, and nursing grudges all sap us of strength. The gift of forgiveness relieves us of these burdens.  Our strength and energy can be directed to other, better things. We even sleep better!

Forgiving injuries is also a work of mercy to the one who has harmed us; it can restore to them a relationship with us that is important to them. It is a very great gift to offer mercy and pardon to one who has harmed us and seeks our forgiveness.  May we truly forgive our brothers and sisters, our neighbors, anyone who has ever hurt us, so that we will be fully open to receiving the forgiveness, Mercy and healing that Our Lord Jesus Christ wishes to pour out on us!




“I will set out and go back to my father and say to him:

Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. 

I am no longer worthy to be called your son;  

make me like one of your hired servants.’  

So he got up and went to his father”. Luke 15:17


On June 3, 2016 Pope Francis raised the celebration of the memorial of St. Mary Magdalene to the dignity of a liturgical Feast, recognizing the importance of her role as the “apostle to the apostles.”

Mary the Mother of God was the first evangelist to announce Jesus, while still in her womb, to her cousin, Elizabeth. Mary Magdelene, another saintly woman, was first to announce the Resurrection of our Savior to the Apostles.  Saint Mary Magdalene is an example of true and authentic Evangelization; she is an evangelist who announces the joyful central message of Easter.



The Church, both in the East and in the West has always regarded Saint Mary Magdalene the first witness of the Lord’s resurrection and the first evangelist.  In the 21st century, the Church is called to reflect in a more profound way on the dignity of Woman in the Church and on promoting a New Evangelization.  Mary Magdelene is the model for both.

It is right that the Church raises her status to full Feast equal to the male Apostles.  This saintly woman known in Scripture as the one who loved Christ and was greatly loved by Christ is rightly promoted to the faithful as a model of women’s role in the Church.

Women, like the male laity have been commissioned by Christ at their baptisms to be priests, prophets and kings.  Priests, in the sense of offering all we do, our works, joys, and sorrows for the kingdom.  Prophets in the sense of preaching the Good News and giving witness to our faith, and Kings, good stewards, here on earth in service to Christ the King in Heaven.

The baptized have become “living stones” to be “built into a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood.  By Baptism they share in the priesthood of Christ, in his prophetic and royal mission. They are “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, that [they] may declare the wonderful deeds of him who called [them] out of darkness into his marvelous light. Baptism gives a share in the common priesthood of all believers”. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1268)

A lot has been written about Mary Magdelene, especially since Dan Brown’s Davinci Code but mostly “urban legends.”  Church tradition in the West has identified Saint Mary Magdalene, and the woman who anointed Christ’s feet with perfume in the house of Simon the Pharisee, and the sister of Lazarus and Martha, as one and the same person.

“What is certain is that Mary Magdalene was part of the group of Jesus’ disciples, she accompanied him to the foot of the Cross and, in the garden where she met him at the tomb, and was the first “witness of Divine Mercy” (Pope Gregory the Great)

The Gospel of John tells us that Mary Magdalene wept because she could not find the body of the Lord  (Jn 20:11); and that Jesus had mercy on her by letting himself be known as her Master, thus transforming her tears into paschal joy.

Our first parents, Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden spread death where there was life.  Mary in the garden of the Resurrection announced life from the Holy Sepulchre a place of death.

There is also an important lesson taught to us in Jesus’ words to Mary, “Do not cling to me,” John 20:17.  Jesus invites us along with Mary Magdelene to enter into the experience of faith which goes beyond the materialistic and that which can be discovered by our “senses.”

Remember Jesus words to Thomas after the resurrection, behind closed doors, “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.”


Mary Magdelene was an eyewitness to the risen Christ.  She was also the first one to bear witness to him before the Apostles. She fulfils the command of the Risen Lord: “‘Go to my brethren and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples ‘I have seen the Lord’ and she told them that he had said these things to her” (Jn 20:17-18). She became the first Evangelist of the Risen Lord, announcing to the apostles the Good News of the Lord’s resurrection

For this reason it is right that the liturgical celebration of this woman should have the same rank of Feast as that given to the celebration of the male Apostles in the General Roman Calendar and that the special mission of this woman should be underlined.  St. Mary Magdelene is an example and model for all women in the Church.




The month of July is dedicated to the Precious Blood. The devotion to the Most Precious Blood of Jesus is as old as Christianity. The early Fathers say that the Church was born from the pierced side of Christ, and that the sacraments were brought forth through His Blood.

In the first century, Pope St. Clement I wrote “Let us fix our gaze on the Blood of Christ and realize how truly precious It is, seeing that it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of conversion to the whole world.”


For centuries the Feast of Most Precious Blood was celebrated on July 1.  In 1969, Paul VI removed the feast from the Roman Liturgical Calendar.  Why??? According to the best information I could find, the feast was removed from the General Roman Calendar in 1969, “because the Most Precious Blood of Christ the Redeemer is already venerated in the solemnities of the Passion, Feast of Corpus Christi, Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and in the feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross.”

It is my opinion that removing a feast as “precious” as this one does faithful Catholics no favor.  It seems to me an unintended consequence of Vatican II was to lessen traditional devotions and thus deprive those traditional Catholics certain opportunities to reverence the body and blood of Christ.  Our Redemption, our Redeemer’s victory over sin and death is a pretty BIG DEAL.  The Eucharist, the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ is a BIG DEAL at daily Mass.  We can never be reminded too often of the Mystery of our Salvation!



Sacrificial blood offerings that prefigure Christ’s Passion and death may be found in the Old Testament

In the Book of Genesis,Cain and Abel  made an offering. Abel’s sacrifice is pleasing to God, Cain’s is not. Cain kills Abel in envy.  The thirsting earth soaks up Abel’s blood as it shouts to heaven for vengeance. This shouting prefigured the scene on Calvary, where Christ’s Blood cried to heaven for the redemption of mankind.

In the first Passover prior to the Israelites exodus from Egypt, God commands the people to kill a lamb and to sprinkle the doorposts with its blood.  Houses sprinkled with blood are spared by the messenger of death. This blood on the doorposts was a type of the Blood of Christ shed in His Passion and Death.


In the scourging at the pillar, we see the Lord under raw strokes of the lash spurt out His divine Blood everywhere. Pilate displlays the blood-covered Body to the crowds: Ecce homo (Behold the Man)! We go through Jerusalem’s streets following the bloody footsteps to Golgotha. Precious blood trickles down the cross until a soldier opens the sacred side. Water and Blood flow from that side to wash us clean (for this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins. Matthew 26:28)

As Adam’s wife Eve was taken from Adam’s side, the bride of Christ, His Church, flowed from Jesus’ side in blood and water. Through blood and water Christ willed to redeem God’s many children and to lead them to an eternal home.  Sin must be terrible. It must be the most dreadful thing in the universe, because it cost the living God in human form the shedding of His Blood.   In order to die, the soul has to separate from the body. But for the Body to have the soul separate from the body, the body has to be deprived of its Blood.

In the very first letter of St. Peter, Vicar of Christ, Peter addressed the need for reverence for the “precious blood” of Christ, “realize that you were ransomed from your futile conduct, handed on by your ancestors, not with perishable things like silver or gold but with the precious blood of Christ.” I Peter 1:17-19

Because an infinite being was offended by His creatures, only an Infinite Being could provide adequate ransom to redeem us. “Give Thanks to the Lord, for He is Good, His Mercy endures forever!


Lord Jesus, You became Man that you might suffer your Passion and Death even to the draining of your most precious blood so you might prove to us your love for us.  Protect us, dear Jesus.  Strengthen our weak human wills so that we will not run away from the cross, but welcome every opportunity to shed our blood in spirit in union with your Precious Blood, so that, dying to ourselves in time, we might live with You in Eternity. Amen

(Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J).




Even the prisoner guilty of the most awful crime is still created in God’s image and is loved by God no less than God loves you or me.   Along with the protection of society from truly dangerous individuals, one goal of imprisonment should always be rehabilitation so that the “lost” can be “found” and restored to a right relationship with God and others.

We can also exercise this work of mercy by speaking up for the dignity of prisoners.  Our prisons are overcrowded and conditions can be dehumanizing for prisoners and guards alike.  We must recognize that even those who are guilty of the most heinous crimes possess human dignity.

There are practical challenges when it comes to visiting prisoners, but the Church does have a ministry to them and properly-trained volunteers are always needed.  My wife and I were actively involved in prison ministry for about a decade because of Matthew 25 Last Judgment discourse. Like many of the other Works of Mercy, the call to visit those in prison or at least to remember them as well as their victims in our prayers is also a call to suspend judgment…and to embrace compassion and justice.

Check with your diocesan office to see what opportunities there are for you.  It is a challenge but one well worth it.   In addition, you might look for ways to help those whose spouses or parents are incarcerated.  They suffer not only the pain of separation but the stigma of guilt.  You may donate to charities that give Christmas presents to children whose parents are in prison. Visiting prisoners may seem one of the more difficult works of mercy but there are certainly other ways to show compassion to the imprisoned and their families.

Our Lord said, “When you did it to the least of these, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).  Those who committed brutal crimes and have been imprisoned are certainly “the least” in the eyes of society.  When Jesus shares his vision of the Judgment of the Nations in Matthew 25, He doesn’t mention the crimes committed or the sentences given. He simply says, “I was in prison and you visited me”


This work of mercy also does not end when a convict is released.  There are programs of restorative justice we need to support to help former prisoners integrate back into society.  Job training and employment can help men and women get a fresh start, and even in informal ways we should look for ways to welcome them back into our parish communities.

We can expand this work of mercy to embrace those who are imprisoned by the circumstances of life.  The elderly shut-ins in our parishes, the residents of homes for the aged, and those who are trapped in addictions of various kinds are incarcerated in different ways.

Their isolation is less dramatic than if they were literally in prison, but for that very reason they are deserving of our care.  And, because they live in our neighborhoods and may be members of our own family, we have easy access to them.






Tomorrow, July 6, we celebrate the feast of one of our youngest saints and martyrs, Saint Maria Goretti.  I remember this feast because my granddaughter did research back in grade school and chose her for her Confirmation name.

I found a brief biography on Courageous Priest website, that I would like to share, also some reflections on sin and repentance.


Maria Goretti (October 16, 1890 – July 6, 1902) is an Italian virgin-martyr.She is one of the youngest canonized saints. She was born on the eastern side of Italy to a farming family, but increased poverty forced the family to move to the western side of the country when she was only six. Her father died from malaria when she was nine, and they had to share a house with another family, the Serenellis, in order to survive.

The Serenelli family was what we would call today a very dysfunctional family. Alessandro Serenelli, the young man who attacked Maria was part of a terrible mess. Giovanni, his father, was an alcoholic and his mother died in a psychiatric hospital when he was only a few months old, apparently after trying to drown Alessandro when he was a newborn.

On July 5, 1902, eleven-year-old Maria was sitting on the outside steps of her home, sewing one of Alessandro’s shirts and watching Teresa, her baby sister, when Alessandro threatened her with a knife if she did not do what he said; he was intending to rape her.

She would not submit, protesting that what he wanted to do was a mortal sin and warning him that he would go to hell.  She desperately fought to stop him. She kept screaming, “No! It is a sin! God does not want it!” He first choked her, but when she insisted she would rather die than submit to him, he stabbed her eleven times.

Teresa, the little baby, awoke with the noise and started crying, and when her mother and Alessandro’s father came to check on her, they found Maria on the floor bleeding and took her to the nearest hospital.  She underwent surgery, but her injuries were beyond anything that the doctors could do.

The following day, 24 hours after the attack, having expressed forgiveness for Alessandro and stating that she wanted to have him in Heaven with her, she died of her injuries, while looking at a picture of the Virgin Mary and clutching a cross to her chest.  In a dying deposition, in the presence of the Chief of Police, Maria told her mother of Serenelli’s sexual harassment, and of two previous attempts made to rape her. Alessandro was promptly arrested, convicted, and jailed.

After three years he repented, and when eventually released from prison, he visited her mother begging forgiveness, which she readily granted. He later became a lay brother in a monastery, eventually dying peacefully.  In1970. Maria Goretti was beatified by Pope Pius XII in 1947, and canonized in 1950 by the same Pope.  Maria’s mother and Alessandro were present at both ceremonies.


Saint Maria Goretti Help us all to flee for the love of Jesus anything that could offend Him or stain our souls with sin. Obtain for us victory in temptation, comfort in the sorrows of life, grant us this grace which we earnestly beg of you , and may we one day enjoy with you the imperishable glory of Heaven. Amen.


“And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna.” (Matthew 10: 28)

What is Gehenna?  The word Gehenna is the Greek transliteration of the Hebrew ge-hinnom, meaning “Valley of Hinnom.” This valley, south of Jerusalem was where some of the ancient Israelites sacrificed their children to the Canaanite false god Molech.  Gehenna presented such a vivid image, that Jesus used it as a depiction of hell: a place of eternal torment where the fires never ended and the worms never stopped crawling.

I share the story of Maria Goretti not only to honor her but to cite her as an example of one who understood the horror and consequences of sin and preferred to die rather than commit a mortal sin. Today we live in a culture that has lost the sense of sin.  It is the last thing most people want to acknowledge or talk about.

Take the grave sin of abortion and public politicians who claim to be good practicing Catholics and avoid at all cost discussing the dismemberment of our youngest and most vulnerable human beings.  They won’t talk about it. They would rather talk about such things as separation of Church and state, a woman’s right to choose, being personally against abortion but can’t impose their morality on others.  WHY NOT!  By their very acts they are promoting their immoral practices on me and coarsening the society I live in.


What is sin?  The Catechism of the Catholic Church gives us a concise definition. “Sin is an offense against reason, truth, and right conscience; it is failure in genuine love for God and neighbor caused by a perverse attachment to certain goods. It wounds the nature of man and injures human solidarity.  (CCC #1849).

(MORTAL SIN) “There is a sin that leads to death…” (1 John 5:16).  “Every kind of wickedness is sin, but not all sin leads to death” (1John 5:17). (VENIAL SIN)

Mortal sin is forgiven through the Sacrament of Confession. All mortal sins of which penitents after a diligent self-examination are conscious must be recounted by them in confession…” (CCC #1456).

Jesus instituted the Sacrament of Confession.  The Church has always understood the Scriptural reference for the Sacrament of Confession to be John 20: 22-23: “Receive the Holy Spirit.  For those whose sins you forgive, they are forgiven; for those whose sins you retain, they are retained.”

There is a direct relationship between the Sacrament of the Eucharist and the Sacrament of Confession as St. Paul recalls in First Corinthians. The Sacrament of the Eucharist is one of the sacraments of the living.  We need to be free from mortal sin before we receive Holy Communion.  If we receive the Eucharist while we are in the state of mortal sin, we are committing a sacrilege, another mortal sin  “For anyone who eats and drinks, unworthily, without discerning the body, eats and drinks judgment on himself. (I Corinthians 11:27-29

Sexual sin is not the only sin, but like for the Corinthians of old, it is certainly the battle of our times. Adultery, fornication, masturbation, addiction to pornography, contraception, sterilization and abortion are real life struggles for many Catholics. These are still SINS, despite the trend in our culture to Moral Relativism that has convinced a lot of Catholics that they are their authority on morality and not any outside authority such as God


We experience God’s mercy through the Sacrament of Confession.  It is there that we acknowledge who we are: limited, weak and sinful creatures in need of redemption.  It is there that God forgives us of any and all of our sins.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world might be saved through him” (John 3: 16-17).

The Sacrament of Confession is an enormous source of interior peace.  The priest raises his hand, and then with a blessing pronounces those amazing words,”I absolve you from your sins.”  At that moment, we know that God has heard our cry for forgiveness, and we have been pardoned of our sins.  JESUS I TRUST IN YOU!

Oh my God I am sorry for all my sins because they offend you who are all good.  Be merciful to me a sinner.  I am deeply sorry for my sins, for having broken or weakened my communion with you and my neighbor.
I pray that your loving mercy will heal what I have hurt, strengthen what I have weakened. Help me to amend my life and sin no more and in your mercy, bring me to everlasting life. Amen